It’s 2019 and we’re all still living on our phones. Technology has made it easier than ever to get from place to place and travel the world on your own terms, especially when it comes to mobile apps. After a few months of solo travel, I discovered some new apps that found to be very valuable!
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of HostelWorld. I’ve found countless hostels (both good and bad), last minute or ahead of time, when planning a trip. The platform is easy to use, allows you to use a variety of filters to select the place you want and provides great reviews.
If you travel to places that aren’t very touristy or cities in North America, you may have trouble finding hostels. When that happens, I always turn to Airbnb next because it usually ends up being the cheapest. This is especially true when I’m traveling with someone else because we can split the cost and it’s cheaper than us both paying for a separate bed in a hostel or sharing a hotel room.
When I met up with my brother in LA, we went with Airbnb’s for our entire stay because hostels weren’t really a thing there. While overall it was a great experience, I caution you if you don’t have a phone plan/SIM card for the country you’re visiting, as it can be extremely tough to get in contact with the Airbnb hosts sometimes!
Also, ALWAYS make sure to clarify how and when you’ll be given access to the apartment or house. I can tell you from hours of waiting around for people that this is key to a good experience with this platform.
Sometimes when you’re traveling spontaneously, all of the hostels on HostelWorld may be booked up. While I’ve luckily never had that happen, I’ve heard from other solo travelers that Booking.com has great deals on places and has accommodation that isn’t typically featured on HostelWorld.
If you’re like me and are 100% loyal to HostelWorld, it’s still worth keeping Booking.com in mind if you’re ever in a pickle!
When you’re in a new country where they don’t speak your native language it’s good to have Google translate handy. This will be especially helpful when it comes to translating signs when you’re trying to get around airports or order food, for example.
I used Duolingo a few years ago for the first time when I wanted to learn some Spanish. It was a really fun app and I honestly felt like I learned a lot for the amount of time I spent using it.
While I don’t have anyone to practice my Spanish with currently, I’ve found Duolingo to be a great way to learn some new skills. I’d definitely use this in the future when trying to get the basics of a language down before traveling to a new country!
When it comes to getting around or finding your way in a new place, I usually stick to the good old fashioned Google maps. Unfortunately, Google maps can’t do it all. Where Google maps fails, Rome2Rio picks up the slack!
I just discovered this app at the end of 2018 when I was working for a digital marketing company in Australia and writing a blog post about this app for a client. I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t come across it sooner because it was a God send when it came to organising travel from one country to another or in remote areas.
For example, when I was in the Philippines, it was really helpful with providing information about ferries and other modes of transportation in between different islands. You can also change the settings to display the cost in your chosen currency which is a plus as well! This definitely turned out to be one of the best travel apps I used this year and I couldn’t recommend it more!!
Although Rome2Rio was the winner in my books and did just fine for my past travels, I met many other travelers who raved about Maps.Me. It’s great for places that are truly off the map and unavailable for directions on Google maps and Rome2Rio AND it’s completely offline so if you have no SIM card, you don’t need to worry about directions. I’ll be testing it out personally on my next trip!
Uber is a given when traveling. It’s convenient and is available in more and more countries. When I was in Sri Lanka, I never thought Uber would be a thing but it was and it was always a better option in comparison to its competitors in the country. I also liked using Uber in Sri Lanka because it’s a well-known and fairly safe service and I wasn’t sure how reliable the other transit apps were.
Think of Grab as the Uber of Asia. I used Grab the entire time I was in the Philippines and never had trouble with it. I also used it for food, just like our good friend UberEats.
The only thing I’d mention to keep in mind when it comes to Grab is setting up payment through your credit card. Unlike Uber, Grab allows you to pay the driver in cash and while sometimes it’s nice to have that option, I don’t enjoy paying with cash in Asia because you need to have exact change or you most likely won’t be getting change back because the drivers “don’t have any small change”. Besides that, it’s an excellent app and I’d 100% see if the country you’re visiting uses it!
Now that we’ve got the practical and boring apps out the way, it’s time to get to the good stuff … photo editing! I definitely prefer to edit my pictures on Lightroom Classic CC on my computer but that’s not always possible when I’m on the go. You can save presets on the Lightroom app just like you could normally on Lightroom to make the editing process even faster in the future which is great.
I’ve been using Unfold for the past year to create more aesthetic Instagram stories. The free templates are great and really easy to use. They also allow you to post it directly to your Instagram account rather than having to save it prior and then fit it on Instagram.
Currency conversion is a vital part of travel if you want to keep on top of your daily expenses. I’ve found XE Currency to be the best one to use mostly because it works without wifi and on airplane mode.
You can compare up to 9 different currencies at a time and it’s super easy to use. Not much more to say!
As a Canadian who’s used to everyone corresponding via iMessage for the most part, I’m not exactly the biggest fan of WhatsApp. I have no need for it unless I’m traveling because it’s more common for people from other countries to have WhatsApp.
Although I don’t currently use this app because I find Facebook messenger works just as well, it is pretty convenient and widely used!
I’m not typically a big game person but I really liked Flags of the world so I could improve my knowledge of different countries. It’s a good way to kill time when you’re waiting to board your flight or have a long bus/train/plane ride and still feel like you’re doing something somewhat productive.
This app is by no means necessary for your travels but I thoroughly enjoy it. Been tracks the countries you’ve been to and shows you by number and percentage of how much of the world or various continents that you’ve seen. If you’re trying to get to a certain number or just want to keep track of where you’re going, Been is a good one!
Until next time …